The Search for Family after the Civil War

The Christian Recorder was first published in 1854 under the editorship of the Rev. J.P. Campbell. This early edition was short-lived, however, and in 1861, under the editorship of Elisha Weaver, the New Series, Volume 1 began. Under this new leadership the Recorder was introduced into the South by distribution among the negro regiments in the Union army. Benjamin T. Tanner became editor in 1867, and was followed in that position in 1885 by the Rev. Benjamin F. Lee who served until 1892.

The Christian Recorder embodied secular as well as religious material, and included good coverage of the black regiments together with the major incidents of the Civil War. The four-page weekly contained such departments as Religious Intelligence, Domestic News, General Items, Foreign News, Obituaries, Marriages, Notices and Advertisements.

After the war, this nationally distributed weekly paper contained hundreds and hundreds of personal ads like the ones below under the heading of Information Wanted.

December 26, 1863: Can any person inform me of the whereabouts of Miss Rebecca Dowden, of Philadelphia, formerly of Baltimore, Md. She has been residing in Philadelphia. Her sister-in-law, Mrs. Elizabeth Field, died in Woodstown, N.J., about three years ago. Her daughter, Harried Dowden, is deceased. The estate of the parties is to be settled, and the presence of Elizabeth Dowden is necessary. Any information concerning her can be left in Montcalm street with Mr. Alexander Toscos, or at No. 619 Pine Street. (Signed,) Mrs. Mary Dowden, Baltimore, Md.

January 2, 1864: Can any one inform me of the whereabouts of Miss Susan Onely, who came from Virginia, in the year 1847, to the City of Philadelphia, Pa., and was raised principally by a Quaker family, by the name of Willets, who reside on the corner of 5th and Callowhill Sts., Phila. The last account we heard of her, was, that she had gone somewhere in the State to live. Any information of her whereabouts will be thankfully received by her brother, John E. Onely, No. 33 Chapel St., Brooklyn, L.I., or at the office of the Christian Recorder, 619, Pine Street, Philadelphia.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

March 26, 1864: Information is wanted of Charles Brisco, who left Virginia, some four or five years ago, to wait upon Lieutenant Fairfax, on a steamer for San Francisco, at the outbreak of this war. Lieutenant Fairfax returned, leaving my husband behind. I am informed that Charles Brisco left San Francisco for Aspinwall, New Grenada, as a cook, or waiter on a family. Any information concerning him may be left at the Book and Christian Recorder office, No. 619 Pine Street, Philadelphia. (Signed) Elizabeth Brisco, his Wife. N.B. – Charles has a mother and sister in Georgetown, D.C., by the names of Cynthia Brisco and Mrs. Mary A. Dove.

May 7, 1864: Of Fountain Bore, who was born and raised in Springfield, Va., and was taken by the Union army, and came to Philadelphia on the U.S. Ship Wartushett, and then got his discharge. He told his brother that he was going to the State of Ohio. Any information concerning him may be left at the Book Store, 619 Pine Street, which will be thankfully received by his brother. -Washington Roberson

July 9, 1864: Mr. Henry Madden wishes some information in regard to his wife, Mary Madden, who embarked at New Orleans, in the steamer Media, last August, 1863, bound North. Information relative to the same, will be thankfully received and amply rewarded. Please direct No. 22 Southac St., or No. 2 Dutton Place. Southac St. to Rev. Geo. A. Rue, or Henry Madden, Boston, Mass. -Geo. A. Rue

August 6, 1864: Can any one inform me of the whereabouts of the two brothers, Jordan Shepherd and Randall Shepherd, who left Norfolk, Va., some 18 or 20 years ago, or more. They are my brothers, and I shall be under many obligations to any one who can give me any information concerning them.
Word can be left at the Office of the Christian Recorder , or to the undersigned, at Portsmouth, Va. -Rachel Shepherd

October 15, 1864: Of Sylvester Bowman, a boy, twelve years old, who left Newport, R.I., about the middle of August, with a gentleman, for Philadelphia. Any person hearing or knowing his whereabouts, or the gentleman whom he is with, seeing this advertisement, will greatly oblige his parents by sending information to Mrs. Mary Bronaugh, No. 7 Fair Street, Brooklyn, L.I.

June 3, 1865: Of Asberry or Rousbey Henry, who was sold from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Tallahasse, Florida, in 1838. When last heard from, in 1847, he was at the latter place. Any information of his whereabouts will be most thankfully received by his father. – Rev. Thomas W. Henry, Care Rev. E. Weaver, Box 2975 Philadelphia, Penna.

July 1, 1865: Information is wanted of Cayrel Robinson, who left Liberty, Clay county, Missouri, about four years ago, to join the Union army at Wyandotte, Kansas; and he has not been heard from since. Any information of his whereabouts will be thankfully received by his wife. -Mrs. Fannie Robinson, Care of P.C. Cooper, Box 1129, Davenport, Iowa.

July 22, 1865: Edith Chappel left Columbia, South Carolina, on February 20th, 1865, with the army of Gen. Sherman, from the residence of Mrs. Henry Lyons. Her aunt, Fannie Bostick, can be found with Mr. A.L. Hart, 327 Lombard St., Philadelphia.

Information Wanted

Information Wanted

August 5, 1865: Information is wanted of Mrs. Nancy Massy. She was born and raised in Gochland County, Va. She was owned, about fifteen years ago, by John Michey. Her name before marriage was Nancy Brown. Any one who can give any information in regard to her is requested to address, Sergeant OLMSTED MASSY, Co. B, 76th U.S.C.L., via New Orleans, La. Who will thankfully receive it, never having heard from her since he was sold, about fifteen years ago.

August 5, 1865: Can any one inform me of the whereabouts of Emily Wilson, the mother of Amanda Jane Wilson? She belonged to John K. Wilson, who lived in Montgomery County, Tennessee, four miles from Clarksville. She was sold and taken to Mississippi, in 1856; or of Eveline Wilson, who belonged to the same John K. Wilson, who, after selling my mother, removed from Montgomery County, Tennessee, to Marshal County, Kentucky, eighteen miles from Paducah. Harriet Wilson, another sister, was sold to Joseph Dear, and taken to Texas. My name was Amanda Jane Wilson. I left Kentucky in 1861 or 1862. My name now is Amanda Jane Bass. Any information of the above named persons will be thankfully received. -Amanda Jane Bass, Hamilton, Canada West

October 21, 1865: Information is wanted of my brother, Madison Woods, who was sold from Rocky Mount, Va., to Richmond. He was there bought by a Southern planter. Any one having any idea of his whereabouts will confer a favor by addressing Richard Henry Croxen, Pittsburgh, Pa.

October 28, 1865: The subscriber is desirous of obtaining information of his seven sisters and two brothers, viz: Maria Pryor, Nancy Copeland, Mary Ann Damson, Hannah Damson, Sarah Damson, Harriet J. Damson, Martha A.L.P. Damson, and Joseph W. and Christopher Damson. They were last heard from about sixteen years ago in Dunlap Creek, Allegheny Co., Va., and formerly belonged to a man named Damson. Any information will be kindly received by John Copeland, Or, M.P. Riley, New Alexandria, Pa.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

Related Posts

Stay Connected

Connect with Accessible Archives on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to stay up to date on news and blog posts or get our latest blog posts by email.

Positive SSL